Shortcut Navigation:
B.5. PARENT BODIES hero

Meet the parents

Meet the parents

  • Exhibition Text

    • Meteorites were once part of larger objects, or parent bodies, that formed when chondrules, calcium-aluminum inclusions (CAIs), dust grains and other components accreted, or stuck together. The chemical makeup of each meteorite depends in large part on how much of each of these ingredients was present when and where the parent body came together.

      Scientists rely on detailed laboratory analysis to determine whether two meteorites came from the same parent body. One of the most common techniques is to look at the different forms, or isotopes, of oxygen present in a meteorite. Researchers have grouped meteorites into categories based on their oxygen-isotope "signatures". If two samples have the same signature, they probably came from the same parent body. In contrast, the three samples shown above and below appear similar but actually have quite different oxygen isotope signatures. As a result, scientists think these meteorites originated from three different parent bodies.

      Show more
  • For Educators

    • Topic: Earth Science

      Subtopic: Meteorites

      Keywords: Astrogeology, Astrophysics, Chemical elements, Chondrites (Meteorites), Chondrules, Mineralogy, Oxygen--Isotopes

      Audience: General

In This Section

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions

Enlighten Your Inbox

Stay informed about Museum news and research, events, and more!